Digital Brainstorm

Posted: March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

My final project for Digital History is going to be a mapping project much like the one we critiqued for the “Digital Harlem” assignment. I think it would be awesome to be able to digitize a copy of Father Pierre Jean De Smet’s map that was drawn in the 1845-47 timeframe and modernize it. I could digitally depict actual locations of the Native American missions he created as well as possible routes he took. For this I would need to make overlays of the travels he undertook to the different missions and forts in the area. Not only will you be able to view the map as a whole but just as in Google Maps, you can zoom in and as the maps get closer and closer to the “ground” you could change the map type to include aerial images from Google Earth. Since I have been working on this project the entire semester most of the research is already done, so I would just need to focus on digitizing it, and any other technical issues that arise with it’s construction.

Using digital mapping platforms such as Google Earth, as well as unorthodox ones such as Falcon view, overlays can be created. Their appearance would appear mirror much of the appearance that was specifically created for the “Digitial Harlem” website.

The only real obstacle I see is the ability to digitize the original De Smet map and somehow turn it into the map data needed in order to create it into a digital map itself that can be manipulated. I am hoping that programs such as Mac PRO GPS, will be able to aid me in this endeavor. According to their website, if I can figure out the projection and datum, as well as identify at least two GPS coordinates, the program can take a JPG or TIF and turn it into a map. I am not sure if this will work exactly due to the fact the De Smet map is clearly not perfectly exact due to it’s construction, but if this were possible then this particular obstacle would be removed.

The last and final piece of this project, if possible due to time constraints, would be to add some of the letters Father De Smet wrote and indicate where he wrote them and who they were addressed to. This information may shed some light into why he was writing to these particular recipients at this particular time. This coupled with looking at the routes he took may create a new understanding of the situation in the Rocky Mountains in the 1840’s.


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